The Music of George Garzone &
The Triadic Chromatic Approach – 2 DVD Disc Set
By Skip Spratt
Jazz saxophonist, Berklee professor and Coltrane descendant George Garzone needs no introduction among the jazz faithful in Boston and New York. George has been a huge force and practitioner in post-Coltrane jazz dating back to my own studies at Berklee and likely long before that as well. Despite his rich contribution to the jazz scene of the Northeast, many who read this may not yet be familiar with Garzone’s robust tenor saxophone. The Music of George Garzone & The Triadic Chromatic Approach, released by JodyJazz Inc., is a wonderful window into the music and approach of this legendary performer and educator.
The 2 DVD Set includes performances by “The Fringe,” as well as special guests Mike Mainieri on vibes, Frank Tiberi on tenor sax and Chris Crocco on guitar. In addition to the well-documented studio session, this package includes a thorough investigation of the Triadic chromatic approach in its 23 chapters and 30 examples. The real treat here is Garzone and Mainieri’s duet on the ballad “Soul Eyes.” George introduces the track by saying, “I want to bring everything down and come back to earth,” however this cut is sent from HEAVEN!
Following the inspiring performances by the studio ensemble, George Garzone begins with an explanation of the Triadic Chromatic Approach and it’s 25-year history. About the same time George Garzone began to develop this approach to improvisation I had the opportunity to study with him at Berklee. This was not something we addressed at that time. I do remember working on the Ferling Etudes and more rudimentary studies.
A note of caution might be helpful to less adventurous students of the saxophone. This concept is not for the meek or those with a phobia of dissonance. George and the ensemble do embrace the concept of “free” jazz and demonstrate it well. That being said, there is no level of recommended proficiency listed among the materials. It is recommended that the student have a grasp on all the triads and all the inversions, which requires a good deal of musicianship. Midway through the video Garzone does make a case for studying tradition forms of improvisation. He states, “This concept will sound better if you have a sense of harmonic continuity…make sure that your improvisational studies in a traditional sense are up-to-date.” Advanced students of saxophone and improvisation will most likely benefit the most from these comprehensive materials.
Beginning with the demonstrations on piano, soprano and then with Crocco on guitar, George Garzone makes a clear and organized case for the use of the Chromatic Triadic concept. More importantly, he highlights the need for serious study and continuing diligence when trying to master this concept. His subtle humor is not lost as he states, “You don’t get a badge that says, I’m a triadic trooper.”
If you are looking for challenging and creative studies to further explore the outer limits of jazz improvisation – this DVD collection is for you. From the studio demonstrations to the multiple play-along tracks, The Music of George Garzone & the Triadic Chromatic Approach gives the student of jazz a wealth of information to digest for years to come.